Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pushing the Limits Read-Along Part 5

Pushing the Limits Read-Along is hosted by Candace's Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms.  If you are interested in joining the fun, grab a copy of the book and go here to sign up.  

1. ­­­  By finally returning to her art, Echo is working through her issues and taking control of her life. While she’s not ever going to return to her previous “normal”, she uses her art as a way to work her way to a place where she’s more comfortable with herself. How do you deal with the issues and stresses of your life?

I am a traditional escapist.  When my life has issues and stress I try to find comfort and sanity in the pages of a book.  Sometimes, when I am really troubled I go to my  "comfort reads" usually books by Tamora Pierce.  If I am so stressed that even books don't help, or I can't focus on books, I pull out the X Box 360 and start playing some Resident Evil--shooting zombies usually makes me feel a little better.

2. Once Noah gives his brothers and their soon-to-be adoptive parents a happy ending, he decides to get his own by winning Echo back. Why does he think stealing her file is the best way to do it? Any other (better) suggestions for the poor boy?

I think he could have simply tried talking to Echo, rather than breaking the law to steal her file.  I think by that point they were both ready to talk and they could have worked it out.  Still, his method kept me on the edge of my seat as I was reading, hoping and praying he didn't get caught.

3.  Echo finally uncovers the terrible truth of what her mother did to her. Now that we know the truth, do you think Echo’s father did the right thing by covering up the incident and keeping it from her? How do you think he should have handled it?

I know he tried to hide it from her to protect her, but I think the truth is so much more liberating for both of them.  They could have prevented so much anger and resentment had they been honest with each other, and it might have helped her recovery too.
4.  Mrs. Collins plays an integral role in helping Echo and Noah find a new normal and happiness in their lives. Tell us about someone in your life who helped you, someone who changed your life, was there for you, or offered help/comfort when you most needed it (or when you didn’t know you needed it).

I have been blessed with both a wonderful husband and a wonderful family.  My family has helped me shape my life in so many ways.  No matter how bad the situation, they were there holding my hand and helping me through the whole thing--especially my mother and my husband.

5. Another major truth is revealed when Echo’s father finally opens up to his daughter and tells her about her mother and how his relationship with Ashley evolved. Knowing this, how do you feel about Ashley now? And what did you think when you learned the name of the baby?

I kept wishing her father had told her the truth sooner.  Ashley isn't the opportunist that Echo made her out to be, but someone who could be the mother that Echo needed when her own mother wasn't there.  I loved the name of the baby--it tied the past and the future together. 
6. Echo and Noah ride off into the sunset together. *happy sigh* If you had the chance, who would you ride off with and where would you go?
I know this is going to sound corny, but I would ride off into the sunset with my husband because he makes me happy, and I know he loves me no matter what.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: It's CYPD Time!

CYPD is the annual Children's and Young People's Conference from the Indiana Library Federation.  Being a young adult librarian in Indiana, this is a big thing.  This is our major conference of the year, and a whole lot of fun.

I am really excited this year for our speakers.  The lineup of speakers include the incredibly talented Emily Ellis, a librarian who focuses on Teen Services.  Other speakers include Thaddeus Rex, Katherine Applegate, and Lauren Myracle.  Can I tell you how excited I am to meet these folks and hear them speak!  This may be one of the best line ups we have ever had at CYPD.  You can see our Conference Brochure.

The conference is a Sunday / Monday event, and I can't wait until it starts.  I just hope I have my craft done in time! :)  I have been working on a Steampunk craft for my library and I think I have an idea that might work--I want to share it with my fellow librarians.  Let's hope I get it done on time. 

Anyway, I have a lot to look forward to this weekend.  Anyone out there going to CYPD this weekend?  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pushing the Limits Read-Along Part 4

Pushing the Limits Read-Along is hosted by Candace's Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms.  If you are interested in joining the fun, grab a copy of the book and go here to sign up.  

1. ­­­ At a certain moment, Echo tells Noah that she feels safe with him. Echo thinks that because of this comforting feeling, she may be able to finally have a full night of peaceful sleep. Why do you think it is important for Echo to feel Safe and why no one else but Noah has been able to provide this to Echo?

Echo has been through so much, and there is so much that she doesn't remember.  She needs to feel safe because so many people have let her down.  Noah has been up front with her, he has looked out for her needs and she trust him. 

2. Beth, Noah's friend, also have a very complex life situation, plus she also does drugs. However, what grabs my attention is her mean behavior towards Echo. Why do you think Beth hate/dislikes Echo so much?

I think Beth's behavior towards Echo could be caused by several reasons.  First, I think she dislikes what she believes Echo represents.  The popular crowd who have perfect lives, but pity themselves because they think they have it hard.  She doesn't know what has happened to Echo, so she believes that Echo is playing the poor little rich girl.  She doesn't see the pain Echo is really in.  Secondly, I think she has feelings for Noah.  I could be off on this, but I think she sees Echo as a threat.

3.  At some point, we finally get to know how Noah's parents died at the fire and how it started. Unfortunately, this is something that has happened before. What tips to avoid a fire (specially when there are kids at home) do you now about? List a few! recommendations to avoid tragedies are very valuable. :)

Keep anything flammable away from young children.  Put matches and lighters in places where children can't get them.  Don't leave candles or anything with a flame burning unattended. 
4. Echo finally discovers more about what really happened to her the day she got her scars at her mother's place. Unfortunately, this also involved Echo's father and Ashley. What do you think about them and to what point do you think it makes them responsible to what happened to Echo?

This is a tough one.  Yes, they bear responsibility for what happened to Echo.  If her father knew how unstable her mother was, she never should have been left with her unattended.  Her father should have answered his phone, even if it would have interrupted his evening with Ashley.  Ashley and Echo's father, were supposed to be responsible adults.  They were supposed to protect Echo, and her father knew her mother was unstable--she should not have left Echo. Still, he also probably couldn't believe that her mother would hurt her own child, but ultimately her father should have been there.

5. On p.303 (from arc) Echo said to Noah: "I love you...[y]ou love your brothers more. I'm okay with that. In fact, it's one of the things I love about you. You were right the other day. I do want to be part of a family. But I'd never forgive myself if I was the reason you didn't get yours... I love you enough to never make you choose." What do you think of Echo's decision to break up with Noah? What does it mean to you?

First of all, I hated seeing them break up, but I could understand where she was coming from.  She understands that Noah's brothers mean the world to him and she doesn't want to be an obstacle for him reuniting with his brothers. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Audio Book Review: Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich

Title: Wicked Business
Author: Janet Evanovich
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN-13 Book: 9780345527776
Audiobook Publisher:  Random House Audio
ISBN-13 Audio:  9780307932587
Length:  5 CD (360 minutes)
Disclosure: I purchased a copy of the book from Barnes and Noble and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!

Wicked Business (Lizzy & Diesel, #2)Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lizzie and Diesel are back in this second installment of the Wicked series. This time, they are trying to find the lust stone, and all the while being pursued by the villainous Anarchy. Will they beat both Wulf and Anarchy to the prize, or will the fire prove too hot for the duo?

I certainly think that I enjoyed this book better than the first. The first book felt like it had a lot of waiting and filler. The second book, jumps you into the action and doesn’t slow the pace at all. This book felt like a scavenger hunt of sorts, with the characters traipsing around Boston, trying to fit clues together to find the stone.

The pacing in this novel is spot on. Evanovich’s momentum never falters during this novel, and rushes you clear through to the ending. I really like books that can keep up the pacing throughout, and this one does just that.

Evanovich’s greatest strength as an author lies with her ability to create wonderful characters. While some of them may be a bit odd, she has a knack for making them believable. I love the characters in all her novels, with their flaws and idiosyncrasies, they are dynamic, fun, and ultimately wonderful.

Audio Book Review:
The audio book is produced by Random House Audio and read by Lorelei King. King does a wonderful job producing voices for all of the characters and is an excellent reader. The audio production is clean and free of flaws. The audiobook is unabridged, but with only 5 discs (approximately 360 minutes), is a quick listening experience. Evanovich on audio has always been a hit for me, and this book is no exception. I definitely recommend the audio if you get the chance.

Overall this was a fun addition to the series, and possibly even better than the first. I love Evanovich’s quirky characters and her wonderful stories. If you are looking for humor and fun, with a good mystery, this would be the place to go.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Counting Blessings

I have worked at my library for almost ten years now, and it has to be one of the best work places around.  Even when the library politics get me down, I am reminded that I am not in this alone, my coworkers are with me.  I am fortunate to work here, in that my coworkers are like an extended family.  When one of us is sick, they rally around them and do everything they can to help.  This week we are deeply saddened by the loss of two of our library family members.  They will be missed.

On Monday evening one of our beloved custodians lost her battle with cancer.  She was a remarkable lady who had the most magnificent smile.  She was dedicated, hardworking, but most of all she was a friend.  I will miss her laughter and her beautiful smile.  She was so much fun to work with, and always someone you could count on. 

On Tuesday evening we lost our former YA Librarian.  In December of 2003 I was hired to replace this gentleman who had worked at our library for 37 years.  It was a large pair of shoes I had to fill, and I doubt that I will leave the same type of legacy he left.  For 27 consecutive years we have hosted a program here at our library that he started in 1985.  While he did retire, he remained a patron of the library who would often stop by to say hello and pick up more books.

My work family is grieving these two wonderful people, but we are also counting the blessings they brought to our lives.  For Judy, I will remember her smile and laugh that would light up whole rooms.  For Jerry, I will remember his legacy, a contribution to this library's teen programming that has lasted 27 years and hopefully much longer and his incredible love of movies.  

Today I say goodbye, to two wonderful people.  You will be missed, but thank you for all the wonderful memories.  I have been truly blessed to work with and know such wonderful people.

ETA:  We received more bad news today.  Another of our former coworkers is seriously ill, and her family has been called to the hospital to be with her.  We pray for her, and hope she finds the strength to defy odds and pull through.  Kathleen we pray for you, and I want you to know how grateful I am for your insistence that I go to the doctor four years ago--Zachary and I may not be here today if it wasn't for your insistence that I see the doctor that day I came into work. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pushing The Limits Read-Along Part 3

Pushing the Limits Read-Along is hosted by Candace's Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms.  If you are interested in joining the fun, grab a copy of the book and go here to sign up.  

1. ­­­ In the beginning of this section Noah decides to ignore Echo because he's angry and hurt.  What did you think of this?  Have you ever experienced a friendship that went awry and they started ignoring you?

It seemed like a perfectly natural response.  What she said hurt him, and his solution was to put some distance between them.  I have done that when someone has hurt me, and have had that done to me when I hurt them.  Sometimes the distance is better than saying something you might regret and making everything worse. 

2. Noah has a bit of a false reputation.  Everyone thinks he's a big druggie and a guy that just randomly hooks up with girls.  While some of it is true to a certain extent, we see it's not really him.  Have you ever had a false reputation where people draw their own conclusions?  Do you think Noah should do something to make people not think that about him?

I think Noah lets them think of him that way because it is a shield.  It keeps people at a distance and keeps him from having to reveal too much about himself.  Unfortunately, since his reputation isn't a good one, people often draw the wrong conclusions and think of him in a negative way.  I don't know if I have every been falsely perceived like Noah, but I can imagine how difficult it would be knowing you are one thing, but having people think you are something completely different.

3. Ashley finds out she's having a boy and informs Echo she will have a brother 'again'.  Echo took this very personally and was extremely upset.  Do you think Echo overreacted?  Do you think Ashley meant that the new brother would replace her brother?

I don't think that is how Ashley meant her statement to be taken, but I can also see how Echo would react that way.  Did she overreact, yes.  I do think it is important to understand that her brother's death is one of Echo's many open wounds.  Although Ashley didn't mean to hurt or upset Echo, saying anything about her brother is like poking at that open wound--it's going to hurt Echo, and cause her to react. 

4. Echo doesn't remember what happened with her mother and for this reason she has troubles seeing her the way everyone else does.  She can't seem to not miss her and still wants to talk to her.  Do you think she should pursue finding her mom?  Do you think it will help her or do you think she would be in danger?

Echo keeps remembering all the good things about her mom.  Sometimes when we are too close to a situation, we fail to see the situation clearly.  Echo is too close.  She needs to step back, and get a clearer understanding of what really happened so that she can make an informed decision.  Unfortunately, that is going to be hard for her to do until she can remember the events that led up to the incident with her mother.

5. Noah doesn't trust the people who have his brothers because of his own past situations.  He decides to seek out a lawyer himself and try to get custody.  Do you think this is his best move?  Do you think there are some other options he should consider?

Noah is in a tough place, and he really wants to protect his brothers.  He doesn't want his brothers to end up in a situation like he did, and he believes that he is the only one who can keep them safe and make them happy.  Noah is so young though, and to support two young boys, himself, and provide both food and shelter for all of them is going to be a challenge.  He needs to sort his own life out first before pulling the boys into it.  I also think he needs to see more of Carrie and Joe--before he decides that they are mistreating his brothers. 

6. Echo finds out that Noah and his parents built houses for Habitat for Humanity.  Have you ever volunteered for something like that?  What is a cause that you feel strongly about?

I honestly haven't volunteered for Habitat, though I love what they do.  This year several people I know have been battling cancer.  One friend just finished her chemo, and yesterday we received news that another friend had lost her fight with cancer.  I support relay for life, and the American Cancer Society. 



Friday, August 10, 2012

Audio Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Between Shades of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: Teen Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Philomel
ISBN-13 Book: 9780399254123
Audiobook Publisher:  Penguin Audio
ISBN-13 Audio: 9780142428979
Length:  8 hours (7 CDs)
Disclosure: I was given a copy of the book for committee work and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!

Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Soviet secret police came in the night, pulling fifteen year-old Lina, her mother, and her brother, out of the house and placing them on packed freight cars like animals. In 1941 Soviet secret police came for families like hers, tossing them onto trains, and sending them to Siberia to die in prison camps. Their crime, was merely being Lithuanian, and the daughter of a professor. Separated from her father, taken from her comfortable home, forced to work for the NKVD, and living on scraps, Lina struggles to survive and pass on her story using the one thing they cannot take from her, her art.

You hear about the victims of the Holocaust all the time, we know about the atrocities of Hitler, and there have been many novels written for teens about those events. Sepetys has managed to write a novel for teens about a not so well known event where people are taken from their homes and treated like animals. In 1941 the countries of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were annexed by the Soviet Union. During that time, Stalin had citizens of those countries deported to Siberia where they were forced to work in labor camps.

Lina’s tale is a heart-wrenching one, but one with hope. She is a talented artist who loves to draw, but most of all she is an ordinary girl with a loving family. She is child who has committed no crime, but is sent to a forced labor camp. I think what Sepetys does so brilliantly is draw the reader into Lina’s life and convey to us how normal she was. Throughout the course of this book I kept thinking about how ordinary Lina was, and how one night the government storms in her home and sends her away. You can clearly understand her emotions, her horror, fear, despair, and ultimately through it all her hope.

The novel is beautifully written. Lina is a likable girl, whose feelings and actions seem realistic. She does what she has to do to survive, and keep both her brother and her mother alive. I love Sepetys writing style, she draws you quickly into the story and makes you see Lina as a real girl. The pacing is spot on, never slowing down or losing the reader. The chapters are short, but not too short, which helps keep the pacing swift.

I loved Lina, but the other characters are well written too, including some of the Soviet soldiers. Most of the characters have depth, and are more than what they merely appear to be. Good people do bad or selfish things, and bad people aren’t wholly bad—they have other sides and motivations that Sepetys makes certain the reader can see. In essence, all these people felt so real to me, they could be my neighbors.

Audio Book Review:
The audiobook is produced by Penguin Audio and read by Emily Klein. Klein does an excellent job with the narration, and differentiating between the voices. The production quality is well done, and quite enjoyable. The author’s note at the very end is read by Ruta Sepetys, and it was wonderful to hear her talk about her book—it even brought tears to my eyes.

The audiobook consists of 7 CDs and is approximately 8 hours long and a very enjoyable listening experience. My only caution would be for those listening in cars—I found myself almost crying at a drive through last week, it does bring tears to your eyes.  Otherwise the listening experience is highly recommended.

This is an amazing book. Whether you choose to read it or listen to it on audio, I highly recommend that you pick up this book. It is a story that is enlightening and ultimately hopeful. I sincerely wish that everyone could read this novel, it is a story of endurance, hardships, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit.

Cautions for Sensitive Readers:
This novel can be rather grim at times, and has content that is similar to what you might find in a novel about the holocaust. These people were brutalized, some were shot, some died of illness, and in some cases even the children died. It is a difficult and sometimes violent read, but an important one. The Lithuanians were treated like they were animals, less than human. One woman is forced to prostitute herself to save her child. In one scene Lina is touched inappropriately by a soldier. There is no sex in the text, though there are references to what is happening to the mother.

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: End of Summer

It is strange, but it seems like the end of summer gets here earlier and earlier each year.  While our Final Party at the Pool ended our Summer Reading Club last week, we are still taking last minute entries and points until Saturday--kind of a catch up week for those who missed a week.  I just can't believe it is almost over!  School has already started in some of our nearby communities, I still can't wrap my mind around that one, and we are doing final revisions to our Fall/Winter programming.  It seems like I blinked and missed the whole summer.

Yesterday when I got home, I got a note from my son's daycare.  Pre-school stars 8/20 and I need to buy him school supplies.  This is the first time I have ever had to buy him school supplies, and while I am excited, it reminds me how quickly he is growing up.  Next year it will be kindergarten and I am not sure I am ready for that.  My baby starting kindergarten... 

The apples are ripening on our trees, they are small this year but still good.  Soon the pears will be ready too.  We have oriental pears which unlike many other types of pears ripen on the trees like apples.  Soon I will have apples and a ton of pears to find something to do with--again another sign of summer ending.

Both Booklist and School Library Journal are hosting their fall YA previews.  Again, another sign.  And finally, the CYPD (Children and Young People's Division) conference is coming up--always at the end of August another sign summer is almost over.

For some reason this year, I just want to grab it and hold on.  I can't believe it went so quickly and is almost over.  I have so much that I want to do yet, and I feel like we are running out of time.  I have done so little reading this summer, I just wish I could discover where all my time has gone.  Maybe it was the heat--I hibernated inside the cool air conditioning, or maybe I just blinked and it's gone, but either way, fall is approaching too quickly for my liking. 

So is it just me, or did this summer pass you by too?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pushing The Limits Read-Along Part 2

Pushing the Limits Read-Along is hosted by Candace's Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms.  If you are interested in joining the fun, grab a copy of the book and go here to sign up.  

1. ­­­Noah and Echo create a plan to read their files. What do you think of this plan? Would you read your friends file first knowing you might not have time to read your own? Would you want to read your own file? 

I think their plan sounds a bit risky.  They believe they need the information, but both have so much to lose if they are caught.  I don't know whose file I would read in that situation--maybe the first file I come to.  I would only read my friend's file though if I had permission.  I will admit I would be interested in seeing what would be in my own file, but I am not sure it is worth the risk.  Yep--I'm a coward, and have to live vicariously through books! :)

2. Mrs. Collins starts to earn Noah’s trust by taking him to see his brother win a writing contest. What do you think of how she’s handling Noah? How would you feel if you were in Noah’s position, hearing that your brother sees you as his hero?  

I think Mrs. Collins is being fair to Noah and giving him a chance.  I think he needs to trust her more than he does, because I think she has his best interest at heart.  I think Noah should be proud to be his brother's hero, and I think the social workers need to realize that Noah is at heart a good kid.

3. Echo is starting to draw and paint again. She’s starting to express the feelings and what she’s seeing as she’s starting to remember what happened that day. Art therapy seems to be a popular way for people to deal with their feelings, why do you think Echo’s dad didn’t want her to continue with art since it was such a big part of her and is part of so many people’s therapy in dealing with similar issues?   

I think he is afraid that her art will bring back her memories of that day and shatter her.  On a more selfish note, I think he believes that there is no future for her in art, and that she so focus on classes that will get her into a good business college.  Echo has shown no interest in business college, him making her go isn't wise.  He needs to let her do what will make her happy and allow her to live her own life.  

4. We see how crazy Beth’s home life is and we start to understand why she is not as keen to be trusting with people in her life. At the same time, we get to see how fiercely loyal Noah is. What do you think of the way Noah reacted to Beth being beaten by her mother’s boyfriend? Do you think it’s showing bad behavior that could get Noah in more trouble or the act of a true friend?

Noah's actions show he cares, but it could also get him into a lot more trouble.  If the police had shown up because of the fight with the NFL player, Noah might never get to see his brother's again.  His heart is in the right place, but sometimes he needs to think things through a little more.

5. Echo has an unusual name. What do you think of the story behind it? Is there a Greek Myth or other story that would inspire you to name a child after a character?     

I think Echo is a suitable name for this character, she is after all an echo of her former self, and an individual who really needs to find her own voice.  I have always liked the story of Echo in Greek mythology, but have always found it to be a rather sad story.  I do like Greek Myths, and stories, and I do enjoy the names, but sometimes names like that carry so much baggage.  I want my child defined by his actions not his name. So probably not.

6. Echo’s big thing is trying to find “normal” again. She doesn’t want to be the scared girl or the girl who can’t remember what happened to her, she just wants to be normal. This goal impacts her relationships with her family, friends, Noah and her ex Luke. But at the end of this section, Echo is starting to figure out that there’s no going back to old normal and she’s going to have to find a new normal. How big of a step is it for Echo when she realizes she’s not “in” love with Luke and figures out that she does need to find a new normal?

I was really surprised by the wisdom Echo exhibits when she realizes that there is a difference.  I think it is her first step toward discovering what she really wants and finding a path that will really make her happy.  She needs to do what is right for her, not what everyone thinks is right for her.



Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thursday Thoughts: Where Have All the Good Men Gone...

I read a lot of novels, and I hate to admit it, I have liked a lot of the novels where the heroine reforms the bad boy, but I am an adult and realize that this is really just fiction.  Sometimes I worry that the teens reading these novels, will want to find their own bad boy to reform, and will find out the hard way that fiction and real life are rarely the same.  To be clear, I am not saying bad boys can't be reformed, I just worry that books that idolize the bad boys will give girls the wrong impression of romance.

Heroines reforming the bad boy, and chasing after them is not a new motif in literature.  It seems like almost every romance you pick up features the dashing rake.  Looking at Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, even Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, we can see that throughout time our heroines have been attracted by the darkness, the forbidden fruit, and men whose natures are in some cases more than a bit dangerous.  Our heroines, want to redeem these troubled men, and we see this same theme in many of today's modern novels both teen and adult. 

My greatest wish is to see more good guys in fiction, teen fiction especially.  I want to see these good guys be the "white knight" rushing in to the rescue; guys that don't have a dark side and don't need to be reformed by the heroine. One of my favorite "white knights" is Jay in The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.  I love that his interest is in being Violet's friend/boyfriend and keeping her safe from harm.  He doesn't need to be reformed, and he truly has her best interest at heart.  There are other good guys in teen literature, but you have to admit, they are few and far between.

The biggest thing I would like to see, is a statement that there is nothing wrong with liking a good guy and more books with good guys as the love interest.  Ten years ago this month, I married my "good guy," and we are happy.  He is a great husband, and an amazing father, and a guy who wants to make the world a better place for his child and his family.  There is nothing wrong with a good guy, they can make you amazingly happy.  I want teens and all women to realize this.

How do you feel about the "bad boys" in literature?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pushing The Limits Read-ALong Week 1

Pushing the Limits Read-Along is hosted by Candace's Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms.  If you are interested in joining the fun, grab a copy of the book and go here to sign up.  

1. The story starts out with Echo’s thoughts on how she wants to answer her therapist’s questions (snarky, caustically truthful) which are quickly juxtaposed to how she does (milquetoasty and banal).  Who do you think she hides the truth for more, her parents or herself?

I think Echo is doing a little bit of both.  She is clearly yielding to her father's controlling nature, and the fact that he just wants to get past all her problems which he doesn't seem to realize go deeper than even Echo will admit.  I also think she is hiding the truth from herself because she isn't ready to face all that has happened to her.  Going along with her father, and telling everyone what they want to hear gets her out of the office, and out from under the spotlight.

2. We see Mrs. Collins, the school therapist, interact with both Echo and Noah in the first few chapters.  From those interactions, what do you think of her?  Is she a prototypical caricature of state care?  Or do you think she’s there to make an honest difference in the lives of those she’s there to help?
Both Noah and Echo seem to think she is typical state care, but I believe she is sharper than that. She stood up to Echo's father, and she seems to know what carrots she needs to dangle to get Noah to work with her. I hope that she is the caring adult both these teens need to get their lives back on track.

3. Noah has two friends, Beth and Isaiah, who have his back no matter what–through thick and thin–and he has theirs. Consequently, his life is a little easier because he has two people who know about his situation. Echo’s closest friend prior to “the incident” was Grace, and she will barely speak to her in school now. Do you think Echo would have had an easier time coping and moving on if she had friends like Noah does?

I think it would certainly help Echo if she had friends she could depend on to understand what she is going through.  Her friends seem nice, but it seems like they don't know how to act around her now since "the incident." Some just ignore her and the others seem to want to pretend it never happened.  She needs friends who will accept her for who she is and understand what has happened to her.

4 . Echo fixates on a colorful ribbon that sits on the school counselor’s desk during their one-on-one sessions. Do you think this is a case of “Oh, look at the pretty ribbon. Let me zone out while staring at it,” or could it have a deeper significance!

I hope there is something to the ribbon--the author spent a lot of time singling it out.

5 . Noah and the jacket… Already when Noah and Echo meet for the first time, Noah got angry when Echo forgot her Jacket pg 34. Then on Echo’s Birthday party Noah gave Echo his jacket when he saw that she forgot hers. pg 54. There is a significance behind his anger when Echo has no coat and it tells already so much about Noah!
a) Why is Noah so fixated on Echo and her Jacket?

I thought it was kind of sweet. He is noticing that she seems to oblivious to the whole thing, almost like she needs someone to watch out for her.

b) Show us your favorite jacket! Either with you having it on or alone!

My favorite jacket has been retired due to wear--I need to start shopping for a new one! :)

6. Echo wears gloves all the time to hide her scars. Not only for her sake, but obviously also for the others. When Noah sees Echo’s scars for the first time he’s shocked.
a) Do you think this was the moment he began to see Echo in a different light?

I think this is when Noah realizes that appearances can be deceiving and that perhaps not everything is perfect in Echo's life.

b) Show us your favorite pair of gloves! 

Okay, right now you may think I am nuts, but my dishwasher has been broken for the last two weeks. We waited for the new dishwasher to be delivered, but apparently the old one fused the wiring and now we have to have an electrician come out to fix it--seriously we were lucky we didn't have an electrical fire! So right now, these are my favorite gloves. I am not vain about my hands, but after a week of washing without gloves, my fingernails began to tear to the quick and were snagging on stuff, and really hurting. Not what you had in mind, but right now I am loving these gloves!

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry Read-Along

I have chosen to participate in a Read-Along.  It has been a long time since I have done one of these and this one sounds fun.  It is hosted by Candace Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms.  If you are interested in joining the fun, grab a copy of the book and go here to sign up.  Yes, I know I am a little late to the party, but I just got my copy of the book and have just started reading.  This should be a fun opportunity, I love reading books with other people, so I can't wait to get started. 

Audio Book Review: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Title: This Dark Endeavor
Author: Kenneth Oppel
Genre: Teen Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: August 23, 2011
Publisher: Quirk Books
ISBN-13 Book: 9781442403154
Audiobook Publisher:  Brilliance Audio
ISBN-13 Audio:  9781455802906
Length:  8 hours 7 minutes (7 CDs)
Disclosure: I was given a copy of the book for committee work and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!

This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1)This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Victor Frankenstein lives a happy life with his family and his twin brother, until his twin falls suddenly ill. Doctors are summoned, but no one knows what truly ails Konrad. In the Dark Library Victor uncovers a mysterious book that claims to have a recipe for the Elixir of Life. To save Konrad, Victor, embarks on a quest that will have him risking both life and limb before it is complete.

Book Review:
Oppel’s writing is amazing. There is an elegance to his text that I haven’t experienced in such a long time. He does a superb job creating mood and giving the reader the full effect of goose bumps and horror!

His characters are well developed. Victor is at time both likeable and detestable. There are moments when you admire his cleverness, and his determination, and then seconds later you see the jealousy and the anger. I loved how Oppel fully fleshed out this character and made him a man whose motivations you could understand, and detest at the same time.

This novel has depth and a lot to talk about. I know I didn’t love Victor, I am not even sure that I like him, but after reading this novel you begin to understand what motivates him. It is an interesting and unique look at the boy who would one day create a monster.

The setting is perfect. Oppel gives you wonderful descriptions of the forests, caves, library, laboratory, and even the city to make you believe you are there.

In many ways this novel is very cinematic, and you find yourself holding your breath. There were parts of this book that haunted me hours after I had read it. On the other hand, there were parts that were predictable. In some ways this predictability worked for the author to remind the reader of Victor’s youth and his naiveté. In other ways it was too predictable.

Audio Book Review:
The audiobook version of this novel is produced by Brilliance audio and read by Luke Daniels. Daniels sounds a little too old to be our narrator, but despite this he excels at the narration. He does a great job with all the voices, and I can’t really imagine anyone else reading this novel as well. Despite my initial concern about him sounding too old, he turned out to be the perfect narrator for this novel. The novel is approximately 8 hours and 7 minutes long and consists of 7 CDs.

Overall this was an interesting book and a chilling tale about the boy who would one day create the Frankenstein monster. You could definitely see his origins in this novel. So you are probably wondering why I gave it the star rating I did? It is as simple as this, while I recognize and admire the quality of the work, I think Oppel may have done too good a job with this novel. It made me cringe, and squirm, and I don’t usually look for novels that make me this uncomfortable. Will I read the sequel? We’ll see. Seriously though, if you want something creepy, and full of suspense, give this one a shot. It is great.

View all my reviews


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